Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Two downwind XC trips in one flight from Kahana

We have Big Al to thank for our new wave of thinking. Before our flight from Kahana, he said to me on the beach, we need to think differently about our cross country routes from Kahana. We discussed many options for different wind conditions, in addition to our typical downrange dashes. Should we try going behind his house in Hauula, two ridges downrange, top land there for a picnic, and then relaunch to fly back to Kahana on this particular occasion? Sounded tough, as we did that upwind slog years ago when prohibited to fly from Kahana with no DLNR permit, and after one year of trying in all conditions, we only made it upwind to Kahana a handful of times.

Big Al was first to race into the wild blue yonder, as I took my time clearing my Sol Torck's 2/3 unsheathed Velcro lines from our fantastic Oahu launch. As I followed him up just 10 minutes later, he mentioned he was heading downrange, as he had limited time. So only 15 minutes after launching, I found myself at 2K+ and chasing him! Perfect enough type of day, but very east, at 75-80 degrees. We spent no time at all at the first ridge in Punaluu, as we both sped to our final downwind destination, the ridge behind Alex's house in Hauula.

Big Al went down to try his top landing pursuits, as I climbed up in a thermal to two grand and went upwind back to the Punaluu ridge. I managed to arrive and get up OK (short upwinder) while Alex eventually gave up on the top landing idea due to the strong thermic swirls down low. By now I hooked another good one up to 2,250' with some incoming clouds, so upwind I went for the bigger two-mile jaunt into an east head wind. I mentioned to Alex that I was committed and would dirt out in Punaluu Valley if I did not make it.

To my surprise! I committed myself to arriving back at Kahana very low, below 700' around the corner on the NW side of the ridge, but as I was on glide there, the wind angle looked OK to pull in with no rotor. Up I went, and it was a shock to me being so far around the corner, with just a tiny rock face to get up on so low! Just a couple minutes later I worked up to one grand and upwind to the Rhino Horn and up to the heavens once again... Alex was having a tough go at the upwinder with his trusty old steed (my 5 year old Aerodyne Dune gave up on upwind penetrations also). I radioed him to call La Peste for a retrieval from Pounders, as the Sol Torck skied out quickly, and I went downwind again to meet Alex in no time.

Minutes later I was with Big Al again behind his house in Hauula, and hooked yet another quick one up to cloudbase, and went on glide to Pounders with him! I was electric, what a buzz. Big Mahalos to La Peste for the retrieval and to Alex for so much! Yes the ballast he brings, but most of all putting thoughts of grandeur in our minds. The moral of this story is "commitment" - many times we have come in low to the Kahana ridge upwind, and always went in to land, as we thought we would never get up from that low. Also, just as when crossing the bay, always hang in and give it a go, as you never know the outcome till you try. (Keep your LZ close).

Hope it's good coffee reading material, I'm still all excited! Can't wait till Chamonix with the Sol Torck...

Aloha, Mad Dog

PS: Thanks again Alex for the inspiration


Anonymous said...

Mad Dog, Great Flight, again. This puts a new twist on heading to Pounders or Haaula. Now we have to get there and come back. Your next task is: cross the bay tag Kualoa, come back to Kahana pass it to Pounders then come back to Kahana and repeat as time allows.

I fear I wont be able to keep up with you in Chamonix. I will need a paramotor.

Thanks for the coffee story and congrats on the new twist.


Anonymous said...

Nice flight Chris, ressurecting the old. I can remember Nalu and Jerky flying to Kualoa from the back of Alexs house. The right day definitely helps, those guys were pushing on 10 year old gliders. I will have to give it a go again.

MauiDoug said...

Way to go Mad Dog, great flight! Great photos
Alex, thanks guys for sharing and inspiring.